Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Coffee and Provocation

Hand Signals Work Better for Dogs than Words
Old news to a lot of dog owners, but new news to some.

Finding Amelia Earhart
Her bones were probably located 76 years ago.  Blame a British doctor for the incompetence and confusion.

Ernest Hemingway Went Fishing with a Machine Gun
Because the ocean is red in fin and tooth.

"It Was Pining for the Fjords"
A tropical parrot bone has been discovered in Siberia, which means the birds might have once populated the now-icy Baikal region, some 16 to 18 million years ago, and may have come to the New World over the Bering Straight.  No word yet on how it got to Norway.

Elon Musk Gives Us Miracle Power Roofs
Elon Musk has created a new Tesla solar roof product that is better looking than an ordinary roof, is not more expensive, supplies a house with all the electricity it needs, and has a higher thermal rating than conventional roofing. So far, the solar roofing comes in four distinct styles: “Textured Glass Tile,” “Slate Glass Tile,” “Tuscan Glass Tile, and “Smooth Glass Tile.” All closely resemble current roofing materials. Each is also transparent to solar, but appears opaque when viewed from an angle. Elon Musk is, quite literally, taking us into a New World by plowing forward with a three-part solution offered up by solar roofs, Powerwall solar storage, and the Tesla electric car.

Farm Production Data Is Not All in on GMO
Do GMO crops actually reduce pesticide use or produce more food? A new "bombshell study" from The New York Times suggests that may not be true, but the "study" itself has some problematic methodologies, as it compare yields and pesticide use (the latter referring to both herbicide and insecticide) between North America, where GMOs are extremely popular, and western Europe, where they are mostly banned. In fact, this "study" is not a study at all, but simply a business reporter putting together some graphs and drawing conclusions without looking too deeply at intervening variables or on-the-farm reports. Could American farmers actually be spending more to produce less? Call me skeptical. One thing is clear: the hysteria over the "health risks" of GMO have never been borne out, and those are a lot harder for individual farmers to measure than pennies and pounds. More to be revealed, without a doubt, but I would bet GMO increases yields in a cost-effective way, at least for now.

The Continuing Crisis
A  flood was averted by the government of Nepal which drained a large lake created by the melting of glaciers near Mount Everest.

A Quick Death Is Best
A quick death is the best you or I will ever get, and the best we can ever offer.  The problem with bird hunting (as compared to terrier work) is that shotgun pellets often leave birds wounded, and the hunter has to terminate them by wringing their neck (larger birds) or applying cavity pressure (smaller birds). Now the Adrenal-Line Finisher helps speed the process. The way it works, is you hold the bird by the bill, then feel for a notch between the skull and the top of the neck vertebra. You stick the Finisher in, turn it like a key to cut the spinal cord, and the bird dies instantly (a video shows how it works).

The Breeding of Frankenstein Monsters 
The breeding of Frankenstein Monsters could make humans extinct.  That's the latest "work" produced in the journal BioScience showing that just two monsters, with the ability to reproduce, could drive humans to extinction in as little as 4,000 years. The authors conclude that "the central ­horror of Mary Shelley's novel lies in its ­prescient command of foundational concepts in ecology and evolution."  Right.

Flying Swift-ly
Lund University researchers have developed a microdata log to track the flight of Swifts. The tracker weighs less than a gram, and it captures and sends information on the birds’ location, flight speed, and acceleration. Based on data gathered from over two years, it appears Swifts spend almost 10 months flying, with a few night stops, but with some birds never stopping at all.

Reverse Engineering Climate Change?
New research suggests CO2 can be scrubbed from the atmosphere to avoid climate change by using "biochar," a carbonized plant matter made by charring organic material without using air (it's how charcoal is made). Biochar can be sowed into the soil to act as a fertilizer substitute and increase crop production. Scientists have also discovered that CO2 can be locked into stone.  Scientists have also found a way of converting CO2 into ethanol, which can be used as fuel.

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